WATERVILLE — Details are emerging about federal immigration raids in Waterville and elsewhere in Maine this week.

In addition to a raid at a Kennedy Memorial Drive restaurant, federal immigration agents also searched an Oak Street home Wednesday.

On Friday, a U.S. attorney said one person working in Brewer had been charged and another 22 people had violated immigration laws, but provided few additional details.

During the raid at 7 Oak St., Waterville officers briefly aided U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as they entered the house, according to Waterville police Deputy Chief Charles Rumsey.

“We did have some people assist,” said Rumsey, who said the department provided a local enforcement presence. “Once they (federal agents) made entry and there were no issues, we cleared the scene.”

A man who said he worked at Super China Buffet on Kennedy Memorial Drive said about 10 employees were questioned there by federal officials Wednesday. The man, who did not give his name, said no one was taken into custody.

The man said he was born in China and is a U.S. citizen.

He said about 10 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrived at 11 a.m., almost immediately after employees reported to work.

Nine search warrants were executed that day at four Chinese restaurants in Maine where illegal aliens had allegedly been employed and at five houses where they were alleged to have been living.

On Friday, U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II announced that during the raid in Brewer, Walter Cruz Sanchez-Armira, 24, was charged with unlawful presence in the U.S. after having been previously removed from the country.

Agents found Sanchez-Armira, a Mexican citizen, while searching Twin Super Buffet in Brewer and an associated residence, according to court records.

In addition to Sanchez-Armira, Delahanty said nine male employees were arrested for being illegally present in the United States — four from Mexico, three from Guatemala, one from China and one from Honduras.

Agents also encountered an additional 13 employees who had no authorization to work in the United States, according to information provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark would not identify the others arrested or those who had no authorization to be in the United States, or say where any of them had been working or living.

The Waterville home that federal agents searched Wednesday was condemned in December 2008 by Waterville’s code enforcement officer.

The three-story house was deemed unfit for people because it had no heat and had broken water pipes, serious electrical violations and shattered windows.

“There was a bucket with toilet paper and feces in it,” said Fire Chief David LaFountain at the time. “I think anyone who lives in Waterville would be shocked at the conditions we found there.”

Tina Chen, manager of the Super China Buffet raided Wednesday, also managed Grand Asian Buffet in 2008. The Super China Buffet is in the same building where the Grand Asian Buffet once operated.

Chen and other restaurant employees lived at the Oak Street home when it was condemned.

Chen and Tony Jan have managed Super China Buffet since 2009.

“We own two houses for our staff to share — it’s part of their pay,” Chen said at the time. “We give them transportation to and from work. Most stay for a year to one-and-a-half years and then move on.”

Jan said at the time that he met Chen while working at her uncle’s restaurant in Arkansas.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the main investigative branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, removes illegal aliens from the country.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]


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